Test poll: How often do home bakers use thermometers to determine water and dough temperature?

Danubian's picture
121 users have voted.


Bushturkey's picture
Bushturkey 2008 March 25

I live in Alice Springs. Our summer just finished/died (well, it came to an abrupt end - as quickly as it snuck up on us last year). I've found that the dough temperature is already above what Peter Reinhart's book says it should be after the dough has been mixed for 10-12mins. That's before I've even started to mix! So a thermometer doesn't seem to be that useful for checking my mixing. I'll see how I go in winter.

After baking, when the bread "looks" right, the internal temp. has been around 205 F anyway. Confirms the statement that if it looks right it most probably is.


Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2008 March 26
You know I did when I was in school, then at home I just did the touchy feeely thing?
Now my battery and digital thermometer are dead, so to hell with it, I know I am a lazy baker!
Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 March 26

of a baker...... I wonder what else will come out here?!

I'm sure you guys feel better now that you've got that off your chests! 



Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 March 28
Hmmm, 160 odd reads but 13 votes; shy home bakers? Get your votes in because this poll closes tomorrow. Once the time frame is set in motion, as it has been, it seems there's no turning back!!

Sure, it's a test poll, but I'm always curious how many use thermometers. Unfortunately thermometers are often not used in small bakeries either, which may explain some of the variations seen on bakery shelves from one season to the other.

Home bakers have more lattitude since timetables aren't as rigid or demanding, nor is there the pressures of having paid customers to supply.

Danubian's picture
Danubian 2008 March 31

Well, the results are revealing for me, as I use a thermometer constantly at work.

However, almost half of the 14 voters never use a thermometer, with 1 seldom and 1 only when in trouble (can't argue with the approach of using it to confirm or measure temp when problems arise to eliminate a variable).

Using a thermometer is often considered trivial or unnecessary to adding any real value to the process, but IMHO this is far from true. While I use it constantly; its main role for me is to eliminate a variable, confirm a state, or exact control on the fermentation which influences the process and the final result.

Micro-organisms, like yeasts and bacteria are temp sensitive; generally in a warmer dough environment they are more active and conversely in a cooler dough less active. Of course, enzymes, which micro-organisms are dependent on, are also influenced by temperature. Not only are they, micro-organisms, affected wholesale but different temp ranges encourage different groups; yeasts, homofermentative or heterofermentative lactics. This has a marked effect on the flavour and aroma of your bread. But further, wheat gluten character is also profoundly affected by temperature. This means that good gluten development may be difficult to achieve at higher temps, and at low temps a rubbery over stable gluten may be resultant.

So what does all this mean? One thing it doesn't mean; that you can't make good bread without a thermometer, you can!
However, it may be by accident rather than design. It makes it difficult to repeat it consistently in differing climate and environmental conditions which are apparent especially during those transitional times from one season to the next.

Try using a thermometer to assist you to keep to fermentation temps and times, giving you control over the fermentation process, then see if your bread volume is improved, or the aroma character changed. You might be pleasantly surprised, especially if you find you can repeat it in any kitchen and in any season.

Thanks again and good luck. 

Panevino 2008 March 31
I guess that one reason the smaller bakeries might not use a thermometer is because it seems pointless to do so unless they can also control dough temp throughout the fermentation process.  Just a thought.

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